Live Gig Review by: Francijn Suermondt
Photos by: Simon Kneller
I was trying to think how often I have been fortunate enough to witness a mega band at the cusp of stadium greatness, I can think of only one time, witnessing Muse play at the Paradiso in Amsterdam in 2000. This gig in the Netherlands cemented the feeling, without any doubt, that these guys were going to be HUGE….and just look at them now.
When a band like Halestorm are this good, and you are a lucky enough girl to see them in a small venue….you just know that this is the last chance you will have to get up close and personal, cos you know they will be in stadiums from now on!
With an all-encompassing sold out UK tour, Halestorm is set strongly on the path to rock n roll greatness and attracting an audience of diversity. The (very long) queue at the 02 Bristol Academy lay claim to this fact and was threaded with metalheads, old-school rockers, teenage dirt-bags in their Lzzy t.shirts, parents and their offspring, middle-aged women, middle-aged men …..in fact a whole Pandora’s Box of bubbling rock butane ready to explode at the front of the stage.
But to begin, the evening started with Rews consisting of Shauna Tohill (vocals and guitar) and Collette Williams (vocals and drums). This London/Belfast based alternative duo produced an enthusiastic and harmony based high energy rock set. A superb combination of heavy and in some parts, tribal, drum beats running alongside haunting vocals, the Rews set resulted in great cheers from the crowd and the girls played with spunk, full of drive and excitement.
Next up on this bill of three extravaganzas was Avatar, who quite a few in the crowd were waiting for with anticipation. Shy and retiring, these chaps from Sweden are not. Hailing from Gothenburg, or should that be Gotham City, because these guys do look a bit like The Joker on acid, even their band name on the stage made a big entrance, lighting up one letter at a time.
Avatar proceeded to bring their circus of death metal to the fore with ‘Hail the Apocalypse’ and whipped the crowd up into a tornado of theatrical excitement throughout the whole set …I was not surprised to find out after the gig that they had made quite a few new unexpected fans that evening!
After a build-up of a collection of ACDC tracks to whet our appetites before the main event, AreJay came bounding on to the stage like a fluorescent Tigger, resplendent in the brightest pink suit with matching tie you have ever seen…but hey ….when you have the personality and drum skills that he has, why the hell not!
With Lzzy in full black leather, Runaways mode and looking kick ass as always, it could be said that possibly her vocals were slightly strained through ‘Uncomfortable’, but this is no surprise due to the fervor with which she sings and also that this was the last night of a full UK tour. But after ‘Mz Hyde’ and continuing through the set, her vocals came back to their raspy, radiant best.
Halestorm sensibly intertwined old favorites such as ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Love Bites’ with new treats from the ‘Vicious’ album such as ‘Skulls’ and ‘Black Vultures’, making it clear that there is no danger of Halestorm’s songwriting treasure trove becoming empty any time soon.
Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith, who has previously possibly stayed slightly in the background due to the vivacious Hale siblings, certainly stepped up to the mark and looked like they had a rollicking good time of it all, with Josh demonstrating why he is becoming one of the best lead guitarists of the modern era. With a superb drum solo, including the use of his now trademark giant drumsticks, Arejay seems to be becoming the Tommy Lee of our time, with the talent, humour, and joy that comes with this accolade.
With an encore which included the thumping ‘, I Miss the Misery’, the band gave a nice nod to their support acts by asking Rews and Avatar onto the stage with them to enjoy a drink during ‘Here’s To Us’. Sometimes when things are so good…It’s like a delayed reaction seeing a band like Halestorm. At the gig, you are singing and shouting and throwing signs to the band……but you then realize you wish you had this feeling every Friday night. Please Halestorm… will you be our house band?